Learn Ulster-Scots

Lesson 9 Grammar and Pronunciation

In this lesson, you will learn about:

  • the Definite Article before a Noun
  • spelling and pronunciation
  • saying, doing and being


1.tha – the Definite Article before a noun:

e.g. tha brig

Pronounced ‘tha’ rather than ‘the’
In Ulster-Scots today, the definite article ‘the’ is spelt tha, not just because it sounds slightly different, but to avoid confusion with the following:

  • (a) ‘Tonight’, ‘today’, ‘tomorrow’ and ‘together’ are thenicht, theday, themorra and thegither. Here ‘the-’ is an abbrevation of ‘this’ – for example, ‘this night’, and so ‘this year’ also becomes the yeir.

  • (b) ‘They’, the personal pronoun, is the or the’ in Ulster-Scots. Most writers include an apostrophe (the’) to avoid confusion with the definite article. Therefore, a sentence like ‘they were all at the dance tonight’ becomes:

    The’ wur aa at tha daunce thenicht.
2. Using the tha where it isn’t used in English:

tha is used in front of numbers – Tha twa o thaim cum in lukkin jist tha yin apiece (‘Two of them came in looking for only one each’)
It is also used:

  • with places (John Wricht comes fae tha Dee in tha coontie Doon)
  • with occupations and institutions (He’s startit tha schuil fur tae lairn tha bricklayin)
  • with sports and illnesses (He’s gien up tha fitbaa fae he taen tha maisles)
3. tha used instead of personal pronouns (your, his, etc.):

  • Is tha wife cumin tae?
  • Tha wee fella cum aff tha bike.
  • A brok tha airm in twa places.
4. tha used instead of ‘how’, ‘what’, etc.:
  • A niver knowed tha age he wus
  • D’ye see tha quïck thaim cloods shïftit?
  • Luk tha lenth his airms is.

Spelling & Pronunciation

1. Ts and Ds, followed by an R (makes a THE or DHE sound)
  • water - wattèr (sounds like WAATTHER)
  • shoulder - shoodèr (SHOODTHER)
  • projector - projectèr
  • ladder - leddèr (LEATHER)
  • after - eftèr (EFTHER)

Also, NNs followed by an R (makes an –NTHE– sound)

  • dannèr
  • wannèr
  • genèral

2. Ts followed by an L (makes a glottal stop)

e.g. metal, nettle, bottle (T is sounded with a cough, like BAW – ’KLE)

Verbs in the future tense are either:
A’m fur paintin tha hoose themorra (I’m going to paint…), or
A’ll be paintin tha hoose themorra.


Exercise - Saying, Doing & Being (Answers at the end)

SAYING: What are the Ulster-Scots words for:

  • to talk a lot
  • tell to be quiet
  • ask to wait
  • hello
  • how are you?
  • goodbye
  • to tell tales on someone

DOING: What are the Ulster-Scots words for:

  • to play truant
  • to play
  • to run away from
  • to fight
  • to vomit
  • to hit
  • to work hard
  • to sleep
  • to kiss
  • to throw

BEING: What are the Ulster-Scots words for?

  • hot
  • ill
  • cold
  • pleased
  • tired
  • insane
  • left-handed
  • pregnant
  • dirty
  • drunk
  • cheated (e.g. financially)
  • to be annoyed by someone

ANSWERS

SAYING: What are the Ulster-Scots words for:

to talk a lot
BLETHER
tell to be quiet
WHEESHT
ask to wait
HOUL ON
hello
FAIR FAA YE
how are you?
WHIT ABOOT YE?
Goodbye
AA THA BEST
to tell tales on someone
CLIPE

DOING: What are the Ulster-Scots words for:

to play truant
MITCH
to play
SPORT YERSEL
to run away from
JOOK
to fight
FECHT
to vomit
BOKE
to hit
SKELP
to work hard
TEAR AWA
to sleep
BAB AN EE
to kiss
GIE A BURDIE
to throw
CLOD

BEING: What are the Ulster-Scots words for?

hot
HET
ill
SEEK
cold
COWL
pleased
MADE-UP / SUITIT
tired
WABBIT
insane
NAW WISE
left-handed
FYUGGIE
pregnant
THON WYE
dirty
MINGIN
drunk
FU/ BLOOTERT
cheated(e.g. financially)
CHAITIT
to be annoyed by someone
BE FASHT / BE DEEVED

BBC Northern Ireland gratefully acknowledges that this lesson was provided by the Ulster-Scots Language Society - and copyright belongs to Philip Robinson and Anne Smyth.

Other Lessons

Lesson 1

Meeting and Greeting

Meeting and Greeting
  • greet people in Ulster-Scots
  • introduce yourself
  • talk about where you come from
  • count in Ulster-Scots

Go to this lesson: Meeting and Greeting


Lesson 2

Self, Family and Friends

Self, Family and Friends
  • nouns for family members
  • nouns for parts of the body
  • describing appearance
  • describing yourself, family & friends

Go to this lesson: Self, Family and Friends


Lesson 3

Moods, Feelings and Clothes

Moods, Feelings and Clothes
  • moods, feelings & characteristics
  • words for items of clothing
  • talking about appearance
  • traditional Ulster & Scots dress
  • clothing & characteristics in Scots & Ulster-Scots poetry

Go to this lesson: Moods, Feelings and Clothes


Lesson 4

Hobbies, Interests and Work

Hobbies, Interests and Work
  • describing hobbies & interests
  • words for some jobs
  • working life & leisure time
  • traditional Ulster-Scots pastimes
  • traditional pastimes and jobs in Ulster & Scots poetry

Go to this lesson: Hobbies, Interests and Work


Lesson 5

Food and Drink

Food and Drink
  • examples of food and drink
  • ordering food in a restaurant
  • discussing eating habits
  • food and drink in Ulster & Scots poetry
  • finding Ulster-Scots recipes

Go to this lesson: Food and Drink


Lesson 6

Weather and Seasons

Weather and Seasons
  • words for types of weather
  • weather conditions
  • words for different seasons
  • seasonal activities
  • the weather in Scots & Ulster literature

Go to this lesson: Weather and Seasons


Lesson 7

Nouns and Names

Nouns and Names
  • buildings
  • parts of the face and head
  • The Coortin’ o Miss Norris

Go to this lesson: Nouns and Names


Lesson 8

Meeting and Greeting (2)

Meeting and Greeting (2)
  • Meeting and Greeting (2)
  • The Coortin’ o Miss Norris - Practice Reading and Dialogue
  • Markers of Ulster-Scots

Go to this lesson: Meeting and Greeting (2)


Lesson 10

Pronouns - and Linen-Making

Pronouns - and Linen-Making
  • Pronouns
  • A Byre o a Hoose
  • Tha makkin o tha lïnen

Go to this lesson: Pronouns - and Linen-Making


Lesson 11

A closer look at Dialect (1)

A closer look at Dialect (1)
  • what is dialect
  • when to use dialect speech
  • dialects in Ulster?
  • dialect spelling
  • ‘language versus dialect’

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (1)


Lesson 12

A closer look at Dialect (2)

A closer look at Dialect (2)
  • what good is it learning about dialect?
  • country matters
  • farming vocabulary
  • farming practices of old

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (2)


Lesson 13

A closer look at Dialect (3)

A closer look at Dialect (3)
  • words with a story
  • what’s in a name?
  • Ulster ‘crack’
  • scunner, sheugh and black-mouth

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (3)


Lesson 14

A closer look at Dialect (4)

A closer look at Dialect (4)
  • similes
  • forms of ‘be’ and ‘do’
  • Match the meanings
  • Wordsearch
  • The Minister’s Cat
  • Call my Bluff

Go to this lesson: A closer look at Dialect (4)